Warning that mankind must not become a slave to technology, Pope John Paul II looked out Sunday over the magnificent Alps and urged people to take time to enjoy the beauties of nature.
About 1,500 people, roughly double the population of this mountain hamlet, turned out on a hillside for the pope's first public appearance since he arrived in the Alps on Wednesday night to begin a 13-day vacation.John Paul drew on his recent admonition to Roman Catholics to be more respectful of the commandment to keep Sunday a special day for the faith as well as an occasion for wholesome relaxation.
"Our life in the age of technology risks becoming ever more anon-y-mous and a function of the productive process," the pope said. "Man thus becomes incapable of enjoying the beauties of creation, and, even more, of reading in them the reflection of the face of God."
He called the natural world a "vital antidote" to boredom, lack of direction, desperation and other ills of modern life.
John Paul, his face already reddened from the mountain sun, spoke from the porch of the white brick and wooden two-story villa about 3,300 feet above sea level.
At times, his words were slurred and his left hand trembled, possible symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The Vatican, however, has never confirmed he suffers from that ailment.
The Vatican has scaled down the pope's once active schedule because of his infirmities and his age, 78 years. John Paul has had to give up his long hikes. Now, he is driven to isolated areas where he can take briefer strolls and pause to enjoy the scenery.
"Time passes for everyone," said papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, insisting John Paul has fully adjusted to a less demanding program.
John Paul has taken on an excursion each day since arriving in Lorenzago, a two-hour drive north of Venice. He has been driven as high as 7,900 feet above sea level to take in the view above Cortina D'Ampezzo, his spokesman said.